Looking For Christian Public Leader? Teaching Congregations transitioned to Christian Public Leader at the end of the 2013 – 2014 academic year. In 2014 - 2015, Teaching Congregations will be offered only to students completing their graduation requirements as per the distributive curriculum. This will remain a non-credit degree requirement. Students and supervisors should be in touch with Contextual Learning at contextuallearning@luthersem.edu.

Teaching Congregations site list

Important Note

The Site List below is for the Teaching Congregations program. In 2014 - 2015, Teaching Congregations will be offered only to students completing their graduation requirements as per the distributive curriculum. This will remain a non-credit degree requirement. Students and supervisors should be in touch with Contextual Learning at contextuallearning@luthersem.edu prior to contacting sites on this list.

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Peace Lutheran Church

Address:20 Northdale Blvd NW
City:Coon Rapids
Baptized Membership:1964
Confirmed Membership:1061
Average Sunday Attendance:496
Paid Staff:Senior Pastor, Pastor for Teaching and Caring Ministries, Intern Pastor, Office Manager, Bookkeeper, Dir of Children's Education, Dir of Children's Activities, Dir of Children's Music, Preschool Director and 9 Preschool teachers, two custodians, two Music Directors, three Music Ministers, 6 praise band members, Youth Band director, five sound techs, Director of Nursery Services and four nursery care providers
Access to Public Transit:There are three bus lines that stop within one block of Peace, and the lite rail line is close by.
Congregation Description:Established in 1960, Peace is located on the line where the outer-ring suburbs of Coon Rapids and Blaine come together. Traditionally white and blue collar, this area has been growing rapidly in both population and diversity -- so rapidly that city and country services haven't been able to keep up with burgeoning social needs and growing poverty. The church grew very quickly in its early years, but suffered a series of divisive issues in the 1980s and 90s. When I arrived in 2004, Peace had been losing members steadily and was reaching a tipping point. In the past 9 years we have increased worship attendance over 25%, increased giving nearly 25%, doubled Sunday School attendance, developed three very different but equally-engaging worship formats centered around quality music programming, and created several innovative new programs in the areas of outreach and hunger/human needs. We've also dealt conclusively with "ghosts of divisions past", and created a new constitution and bylaws based on the ELCA national model. Peace is a church full of worker bees that specializes in feeding the hungry in our community. In addition to two Loaves & Fishes programs, its own food shelf and school holiday basket program, Meals on Wheels, and Family Table Meal, this past summer alone Peace provided 3,433 free lunches for those in need in the community. Peace has a history as a teaching congregation. It has hosted a number of interns and contextual ed students in its 52 years, and would be thrilled to provide the same guidance to other seminary students in the future.
Congregation Keywords:vibrant, open, welcoming, fun, caring, committed, engaged, faithful, musical, serving, Spirit-led,joyful

Mentor Pastor: Nancy Bence

Years in Ordained Ministry:15
Years in Current Position:9
Previous Students Supervised:6 interns
Autobiography:I am a third (maybe fourth?) career pastor -- and I think my varied life experiences have significantly enhanced my ministry and understanding of how God works in our world as well as in the church. After graduating with a B.S. in vocal performance and music education, I had 10 years' experience as a development specialist raising funds for Gettysburg College and the Fairview Hospital Foundation, followed by 5 years' experience as the Executive Director of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice of Minnesota and a volunteer church-based community organizer for Isaiah. No longer able to ignore my call to ordained ministry, I started classes at Luther Seminary in 1993 and graduated in 1998. Because I was married with two small children and wanted to give them as much stability as possible, I did my Contextual Education and a two-year concurrent internship at the church we attended, St. James Lutheran in Crystal. In my case it was a very positive thing to be that deeply involved in the life of one congregation over a 5-year period -- and then to continue that work at St. James in my first call as Associate Pastor. In 2004 I was called as Senior Pastor at Peace Lutheran in Coon Rapids--which has been a truly wonderful experience. My particular strengths are in preaching and teaching, worship and music, strategic planning, stewardship, and administration. I have just completed two terms as NW Conference Dean and served as Chair of Deans for the Minneapolis Area Synod. I was also a candidate for Bishop in the recent election. In my free time, I am an avid equestrian and dog training enthusiast. I also care for my aging parents, who live nearby. My wonderful husband Ken and I have been married for 28 happy years; our kids are grown now and living independently. Life is full and happy.